Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Something to Talk About

I'm following local politics as best I can, and one thing I'm learning about it: you'll never know how much you don't know.

Today I had a chance to sit at the feet of a local political consultant and activist. This person knows enough local dirt to fill volumes. I heard names that were entirely new to me, names of people who "make things happen" in the county party. I heard stories of rivalries, alliances, grudging peaces forged and figurative cage matches declared. I heard warnings as well as endorsements. I heard financial details as well as personal differences.

I realized something walking out of there: that there is a LOT more to this party than you see at first. Pick up even the most benign-looking log on the trail and all manner of creepy things crawl out from under it. Rumors, false accusations, power plays,... a regular Shakespearean cast of characters.

I'm glad I'm in a position to hear things, but I want to stress this: if you look at the people in the party as your motivation or inspiration, you will be disillusioned time and again. We must look at the principles and values we share, and we must support the people who forward them. Yes, even if they have some dirty laundry or less-than-sterling motives.

But we must also fight to make sure we aren't trusting empty suits on power trips to carry our values forward. That approach has got us nowhere. It isn't the fault of leadership if they suck. It's our fault. And we're the only ones who can fix it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harris County Leadership Challenge

I've been told these stats come from the Republican Party of Texas...

Of the 254 counties in Texas:

Republicans gained votes in 140 counties with 2,438,604 registered voters
Democrats gained votes in 114 counties with 11,136,458 registered voters.

The 50 fastest growing Republican counties in Texas have a total of 637,694 registered voters
The 50 fastest growing Democratic counties have a total of 8,959,881 registered voters.

(h/t Future of the HCRP)

That's pretty daunting.

And the largest county in Texas, and one of the largest counties in the country, and one of the only "red" urban counties, is Harris County, the epicenter of it all. This year, Harris County suffered tremendous losses in countywide races. The damage was not total devastation, as happened to Dallas county just a few years ago. But one more bad election cycle will put Harris firmly in the "blue" category.

Today, Ed Hubbard openly challenged current HCRP chair Jared Woodfill: Either offer a plan for turning the trend around in Harris county and winning in 2009 and 2010, or step down and let another person with an actual plan lead. It's unclear whether Woodfill plans to respond to this challenge or ignore it, but rumors around political circles say Jared isn't going anywhere. One party insider told me Jared has stated privately that he has $500,000 to throw at any challengers to beat them back.

That's nice.

I bet there are some candidates who would have preferred a little piece of that $500,000 to help them in their campaigns this fall.

No matter what happens with the leadership, no matter who leads the party in the coming years, one thing is clear. The Harris County Republican Party has a lot of work to do if its goal is to continue to elect Republicans to office. Right now, the prospects aren't looking so good.

New Year, New View

Though I've blogged a bit elsewhere, I think it's time to focus on the political sphere, and what I'm doing in it. Harris County, home of Houston Texas, is changing politically, demographically, economically and in many other ways. I've heard it said in several places that Harris County is Ground Zero for the future of the Republican Party as a whole. If that's true, then I have a ringside seat. Or a place in the clown car anyway.

At present I'm a precinct chair in the far west part of the county. I also serve on the Rules committee for the county party, and in leadership for my Senate District. I've been a precinct chair for a little over a year, but I've been involved in the convention process for the Republican party for over ten years. I'm very opinionated and outspoken, and I don't always get it right by any means.

But I do believe in the platform of the Republican party, and the stand it takes.
I believe in the people who crafted it.
I believe in the people who go to work in unglamorous jobs every day making a living for their families.
I believe in servant leadership, and in an electorate that holds politicians accountable.
I believe that what we do as a nation is what we are, and that it's our obligation to know what is happening in our government.

I believe that following politics is more important than following my favorite sports team.
I believe this because Drayton McLane can't get into my wallet but Barak Obama definitely can.

Most of all, I believe this is where I am supposed to be. A Sovereign God gave me this awful curiosity and enthusiasm for politics, and placed me where I can do the most damage good.

I hope readers find something interesting here, something to care about, something worth fighting for. At the least, they'll be able to watch me fall, get back up, and fall again, and laugh with me at myself.